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Jun 12, 2009

Save a Troubled Relationship

If you feel that sinking feeling coming on that means your relationship is on the rocks, now may be a good time to re-examine your relationship with your loved one. There are several steps you can take to put you and your partner back on the road to recovery.

Decide if it is worth it. It is a sad fact about life, but some relationships may happen to be too far gone to save. Therefore, take some time to really think about the relationship. Find out the real cause of the conflict or breakup. Is it your fault or your partner's fault? If you are in an abusive relationship, physically or emotionally, it may be best to leave and find a fresh start. If not, you must be willing to take on the following steps with a passion. If at the end of the day you still think that the relationship is worth saving, then go all out to save it. Pinpoint the problem. It is hard to fix a relationship when you do not know what went wrong. Talk to your partner to see if they are willing to try a problem-solving method known as "Plus Delta".

If he or she is willing, take some quiet time out of your day where you two can do the following:

Each person needs a piece of paper folded length-wise into thirds. Label the first column "plus", the second column "minus", and the third column "delta". In the plus column, each of you must write several things that you personally find to be good in your relationship. Ex. "our walks in the park" or "the way we wake each other up when we have a bad dream" In the minus column, individually write what you each think are some negative aspects of your relationship. Ex. "how we resort to screaming when angry" or "our lack of communication during arguments". Delta is a term used in math and science that means "change in". You should use this column to identify specific changes that you wish to make in your relationship. This can mean doing less of one thing or doing more of another thing. Ex. "more cuddle time while watching T.V."or "planning special dinner dates" or "more daily communication". Share your thoughts. It is important that these thoughts are not shared in an angry or argumentative way. You should hold each other's hand while sharing your thoughts or cuddle up together. It may feel awkward to do this if you have been fighting a lot lately, but it can make a difference.

Listen. When your partner is talking, do not interrupt them to "counter" what they said or to defend yourself. Keep in mind that if they wrote something down under the minus column, it is because it is truly hurting or worrying them. Whether their feelings seem rational or not, it is important to respect them. Take action. Try to identify some of the most important problems on each others list and find a way to fix the situation. For example, if communication was a big problem, make it a point to talk to each other for twenty minutes each day without the T.V., radio, or computer on. Maintain your progress. Be sure to apologize for hurting each others feelings and repeat the process as often as needed.

Often the best way to fix problems is to not verbalize it but just do what you know will help. That is, don't approach your partner and say "We have problems, let's discuss and sort it out." Just make an effort first without saying so. People often feel more upset when they have to face the fact that the two of you have been having problems. Showing affection and love only helps. After the first "Plus Delta" exercise, it may be more convenient to try the method verbally. Just remember to remain respectful. If you repeat the exercise on paper, you can put the old papers into a binder to look at them later as a memento to your progress. You can use this method to repair relationships with informal co-workers, friends, and family members. You can, of course, leave out the physical contact and replace with just a quite, restful environment. Agree to keep your "Plus Delta" exercises private.

Never force anyone to try something that they do not want to try. This method may not work on all types of relationships. The other party may not be ready or willing to save the relationship.